Friday, 18 July 2014

The 10th MWLTH: 1

Tim Parkinson and Adam Morris

Here we are again—has it really been an entire year? It seems recent that the past Music We'd Like to Hear concluded—and I intend to write again about this festival. While there have been other gigs since last year's concerts (the James Saunders portrait at City springs to mind, as does Christopher Fox's new piece for the Clerks) I haven't felt as needing to scribble anything much about them as much as mwlth.

No. 1: Tim. 

Tim's concert this year, a series of percussion/piano solo/duos, convinced me—if I needed much more convincing—of the curious hybrid variety and singularity that so characterises the mwtlh aesthetic. I suppose telling John, Tim and Markus's concerts from one another is relatively easy--but nevertheless the differing curatorial approaches, for want of a better expression, slide gracefully into one another such that extracting a total mwtlh is at least to me seductively easy. 

The opener this year Chiyoko Szlavnics' early piece, Her Teeth Were White (1999) was a surprise for anybody expecting her careful, linear-laminal music. Here instead some enigmatic aphorisms for solo percussion, separated by slices of silence. A short piece made long by a Wandelweiserian sprinkling of pauses—though Adam Morris' more liberally dramatic, fluid 'pause interpretation' seemed not that necessary for me. 

Makiko Nishikaze's piano pieces that followed I found more difficult (as I have done in the past with her music)—while I admire her amazingly disappearing material—one that evaporates entirely on the tongue as it is being tasted--its inherent lack of memorability remains a problem, despite its elegence. Kunsu Shim's trace, elements (iv) (2005) perhaps suffered from a similar syndrome, though here it was 'thinness' rather than 'tendency to evaporate'. This was music that wanted to say a lot with little but ended up saying little also. 

Christian Wolff's weird and at times silly duo For Morty (1987) was also 'thin' but in that wonderful way so much of Wolff's music is. Never repeating itself and occasionally landing on a very exposed material texture, or oddly tonal corner, this was an unexpected and unpretentious piece.

Matteo Fargion's piece float weave, percussion part

The strongest efforts for me were though Jonathan Marmor's Jonathan Marmor (1999/2014), a two-part process melody—impressively, his first composition--here arranged for piano and vibes. This is music totally self-organising, and quite energetic too. Charlie Sdraulig caught something of Fitkin in it (not sure Tim was pleased with this comparison)—though to me this was an accident of instrumentation—Marmor's other music is too weird to abide this comparison for long. This particular piece seemed to me closer to, say, Tom Johnson in its algorithmic rigour. 

Similarly strong was Matteo Fargion's float weave (1996), amazingly not heard since it was done, a marvellous singular extension of one rhythmic idea. The little I have heard of Fargion has been impressive (see the write up of Markus' concert also). Perhaps I was pleasantly surprised to find Tim favouring something so orthodox in its developmentalism—so much of Tim's music, like other pieces of Fargion, adopt a kind of 'ensemble' form, where material lives with other material despite unreconciled difference or irrelation. 

A good gig in all, then, and a very promising start to this tenth(!) edition of Music We'd Like to Hear

The final concert is at 7.30 tonight. Further write-ups will appear here shortly. 

No comments: